How to Defend Prophet Muhammad? (Part 1)

Showing Our Love for The Prophet:
By Sadaf Farooqi
Freelance Writer- Pakistan

As Muslims, our faith is not complete if we do not hold the Prophet dearer to ourselves than our own selves, our parents, or anyone else.

Part 2

The whole world is currently talking about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

In an age dominated by instant online marketing, media strategies, public relations campaigns, and digital media publishing, the power of the printed or published world, audio podcasts, recorded videos and public opinion has increased manifold and quite frequently, spirals even out of our control, as the dynamic duo of electronic devices and social media achieve in seconds what massive printing presses took weeks or months to accomplish decades ago.

In the new age of media, “leaked” amateur videos, tweets, blogs and Facebook shares can garner a viewership that by far exceeds that of the first official press release. And so the test and trial of our faith enters hitherto new realms, as the keyboards on our devices allow us to vent our emotions to an audience of thousands within seconds, wherever we might be.

In the world of “Public Relation”, there is a controversial adage that goes: “There is no such thing as bad publicity”, and what it basically and debatably implies is that any scandal, rumor, or other form of public mud-slinging actually benefits the career of the “victim” or recipient in question, be they a celebrity, politician or any other public figure.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has unfortunately become the latest recipient of vile slander and false accusations of an extremely disturbing nature by a small group of filmmakers who are as yet unidentified. The question I want to ask is:

Even though this derision of his name and honor is undoubtedly repulsive and offensive in the short-term, is it possible that it might just be good for his name in the long run?

But before you get me wrong, let me start by saying that I condemn in the strongest terms possible, stopping short of exceeding the Islamic bounds of decency and conduct, the repulsive contents of the alleged “Sam Bacile” (himself perhaps a fictitious character) film that derides our dear Prophet.

Now, as to what the response of a Muslim should be when such provocative incitements are carried out by those who wish to demean Islam and its Prophet, perhaps we should recall a few things:

- What the Quran says we should do when faced with blatant mockery of Prophet Muhammad.

- What was the Prophet’s own response used to be towards such behavior by his antagonists?

- What did his companions use to do to defend his honor in his presence; actions which he approved of tacitly, by remaining silent?

God’s Command in the Quran

we should beware of becoming the means of spreading the evil slander itself

God commands believers in the Quran to leave the setting, company of people, or location where His signs or His religion is being mocked:

{Already has He sent you Word in the Book, that when you hear the signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, you are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme: if you did, you would be like them. For Allah will collect the hypocrites and those who defy faith - all in Hell.} (An-Nisa’ 4: 140)

In the digital world, this refusal to “sit with” those who demean or dishonor God, His Prophet, the Quran, Islam, or any of its commands or symbols in any way, would amount to a non-confrontational but firm boycott of the website or other platform where the mockery is taking place.

As modern day users of digital devices and social media, we should be careful about sharing links to videos, images or articles that can add fuel to the fire, but more importantly, we should remember and realize that by doing this we are becoming unwittingly voluntary “PR” agents and marketers for those who blaspheme about our religion and Prophet.

Instead, we should use our social media status updates and tweets to condemn these vile actions of the deliberate troublemakers in a world that is now closely interconnected in real time, seeking to ruffle feathers and give another blow to a boat already rocking precariously on rough waters, and to denounce the evil oratorically and openly.

However, in our zest to defend our Prophet’s honor, we should beware of becoming the means of spreading the evil slander itself. This is because ‘provocateurs’ in the modern digital world value nothing more than the number of hits on their article, video, or link, seeking increasing fame and attention, even if it is of a negative nature, because this usually translates to money and future opportunities.

God says in the Quran: {Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves..} (An-Nisa’ 4: 29)

The Prophet’s Own Reaction to Provocative Attacks

It was reported that Anas ibn Malik said:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was not a person who insulted people or used obscene language, and he did not curse people. If he wanted to rebuke anyone, he would say, "What is wrong with him? – may his forehead be rubbed with dust." (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet was famous for forgiving his personal enemies, even those who had openly sought to kill him in the past. He was neither hot-tempered nor volatile in face of instigation and provocations, especially by vile mischief mongers and antagonists among the disbelievers.

Anas ibn Malik reported:

I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and he had put on a mantle of Najran with a thick border. A Bedouin met him and pulled the mantle so violently that I saw this violent pulling leaving marks of the border of the mantle on the skin of the neck of the Messenger of Allah. And he (the Bedouin) said: “Muhammad, issue a command that I should be given out of the wealth of Allah which is at your disposal.” The Messenger of Allah turned his attention to him and smiled, and then ordered for him a gift (provision). (Muslim)

Smiling at a person who has, in his impatience and lack of manners, just inflicted a physical injury upon you?

As his followers, we should try to emulate his conduct both in our personal as well as our communal lives, by striving to remain patient and calm whenever any “agent provocateur” with evil intentions creates a “finah that openly attempts to disunite and provoke us into emotionally retaliate actions which, though they completely spare the instigators damage, inflict greater harm upon our own security, lives and properties - as the criminals stand by and watch us act like vandals, probably with amused smirks on their faces!

Defending the Prophet

it is imperative to emulate the Prophet’s patience and forbearance

The Prophet himself never returned the insults and derision meted out against him by his opponents, critics, slanderers and archenemies. However, even though his stance was always one of patience and non-retaliation, there were times when his companions stood up for him, defended his honor and his physical person, and even returned the antagonism of some of his opponents either verbally or by brandishing a weapon, and the Prophet did not stop them, nor did he disapprove of their actions, nor reprimanded them for doing so.

Therefore, I would like to exhort that while it is imperative to emulate the Prophet’s patience and forbearance when it comes to reacting to provocative instigations that clearly aim to deride him, a few points should be borne in mind whilst doing this:

- You “should” feel angry! Only anger that is for the sake of one’s own self is considered a destructive emotion that leads to sins. There is actually a praiseworthy anger as well; an anger or rage that gains the pleasure of God. This anger is inspired by, and is indicative of, true, sincere uncontaminated faith, loyalty and sincerity towards God and His Prophet.

As Muslims, our faith is not complete if we do not hold the Prophet dearer to ourselves than our own selves, our parents, or anyone else. And when such a person who is so close to our hearts is insulted, it will naturally give rise to anger. Would we not feel angry if someone abused our mother in front of us, or tried to harm our child in our presence? If we felt no defensive or anger in such a situation, our sanity and love towards our close kin would be undoubtedly questioned!

Therefore, the anger we feel when our Prophet is insulted or derided in any way is actually praiseworthy, so much so that any Muslim who does not feel this anger well up inside him or her when the Prophet is mocked, needs to check his faith and his loyalty to God’s faith.

Therefore, I would just like to make something very clear: vile insults towards Prophet Muhammad should result in a Muslim getting angry for the sake of God.

However, this anger should not cause him or her to commit foolish, irrational, reactive, sinful, vandalistic and destructive actions.

Muslims should openly, verbally and publicly condemn the vile actions meted out in bad taste against their religion and their Prophet, but the manner of this condemnation should be well-worded, civilized, non-violent, non-provocative, non-accusatory and carefully planned out in advance.

Being tolerant and patient and abstaining from retaliatory violence does not imply remaining silent as if nothing happened or as if Muslims were not hurt or offended; it does not imply “ignoring” the evil as if it does not exist, or as if it is justified in the name of “freedom of expression”.

- Muslims should peacefully and via proper legal procedures, attempt to contact those in authority to reprimand and bring the perpetrators of this gross disrespect to the Prophet to justice, because deliberately dishonoring any respectable person is a sinful action which should be repudiated.

(...To be continued In-Shaa-Allah ...)

Related Links:
Say it Out Loud: I’m Proud to Be a Muslim Youth
The Prophet Film: Beyond Shock and Reaction (Special Folder)
Glimpses of Wisdom from the Prophet's Life
The Prophet's Wisdom in Leading His Companions
The Prophet's Kindness Towards People of the Book
Sadaf Farooqi is a freelance writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a postgraduate master degree in Computer Science and a diploma in Islamic education. She has seven years of experience as a teacher of Islamic education courses for women and girls. She has an award winning blog called Sadaf's Space, and has written for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine, Saudi Gazette and MuslimMatters.org. Sadaf has also authored a book titled Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage.

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